Venezuela Background Venezuela was one of three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Colombia and Ecuador). For most of the first half of the 20th century, Venezuela was ruled by generally benevolent military strongmen, who promoted the oil industry and allowed for some social reforms. Democratically elected governments have held sway since 1959. Current concerns include: an embattled president who is losing his once solid support among Venezuelans, a divided military, drug-related conflicts along the Colombian border, increasing internal drug consumption, overdependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.
Venezuela Economy Venezuela continues to be highly dependent on the petroleum sector, which accounts for roughly one-third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings, and more than half of government operating revenues. Despite higher oil prices at the end of 2002 and into 2003, domestic political instability, culminating in a two-month national oil strike from December 2002 to February 2003, temporarily halted economic activity. The economy is likely to remain in a recession in 2003, after sinking an estimated 8.9 percent in 2002.
Venezuela Location Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana
Venezuela Flag three equal horizontal bands of yellow (top), blue, and red with the coat of arms on the hoist side of the yellow band and an arc of seven white five-pointed stars centered in the blue band